Yemi Akande-Bartsch

It seems only fitting to kick off this report by unveiling our newest tagline (above), as this has been a year of looking and moving forward for our organization. We leapt into this year with a return to in-person programs and events, while carrying with us lessons and best practices learned from the pandemic. The return to in-person programs and events felt like a triumphant homecoming, a testament to our resilience in the face of adversity. In the pursuit of addressing the most pressing needs of our beloved region, we launched a series of forums. Each gathering was a crucible of ideas and shared purpose; the flames of hope burned brightly in these gatherings, illuminating our path forward.

In our relentless quest to empower leaders, we brought our leadership program participants into new spaces and issues, providing greater opportunities for growth and learning. It was a voyage of self-discovery, an odyssey of personal growth and civic issue awareness.

We shone a light on the leaders and organizations working tirelessly to make our region better. Their stories resonated with the heartbeat of our community, inspiring us all to reach higher and strive harder.

All the while, we were also hard at work on charting our path forward with a new strategic plan that fills our heart with boundless excitement. This blueprint is not just a document; it is the roadmap to our dreams, a testament to our unwavering commitment to leadership, and a pledge to elevate our reach, relevancy, and impact in our region.

However, let us not forget that our true impact lies in the 11,000+ alumni who take what they've learned in our programs and discussions out into our region, from their homes and schools to their workplaces and the community. Their actions ripple through the fabric of our region, leaving an indelible mark.

In this report, we have tried to highlight not only our work but the reach of these alumni.

With our new strategic plan as our guiding star, we are eager to forge ahead.  We invite you to join us on this exhilarating journey to work on an enduring legacy of transformation. Let’s make our region shine brighter than ever before.

Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch
President & CEO
FOCUS St. Louis

Impact by the Numbers

Healthcare Day

Program Outcomes

251 leaders, ranging from high school juniors to CEOs, participated in our continuum of five leadership programs. As part of the evaluation process, we measured their outcomes in four key areas: relationship-building, collaborative leadership, civic understanding and civic readiness.

of 2022-23 graduates reported enhanced collaborative leadership skills, and 83% had greater civic understanding.
of program participants improved their ability to build meaningful relationships with leaders from a variety of backgrounds.
of graduates left their program experiences with a deeper sense of personal commitment to the St. Louis region.


Our Year In Review

Fall Happy Hours

Alumni Happy Hours

The connections don't end after FOCUS participants graduate from their programs. After two years of virtual events, our alumni were excited to return to in-person networking  at our fall happy hours.

United Way Forum Partnership

United Way Partnership for Forums

This year, we teamed up with United Way of Greater St. Louis for a series of free community forums on the most pressing needs facing our region, including affordable housing, behavioral health and jobs and transportation.

Leadership St. LouisLeadership St. Louis

Our 2022-23 class of Leadership St. Louis brought together 63 leaders to explore topics ranging from local government and economic development to the justice system and racial equity all while examining the systems and institutions shaping our community.

Emerging LeadersEmerging Leaders

This year, 51 early-career professionals graduated from Emerging Leaders, gaining the tools to take an active role as the next generation of regional leaders. In addition to seminar days, participants put their leadership skills to work through Civic Action Projects in collaboration with community partners.

Women In LeadershipWomen In Leadership

A total of 52 leaders were part of this year's fall and spring Women In Leadership cohorts, coming together for a transformational journey of learning, connection, reflection and personal growth through seminar and field days.

Youth Leadership St. LouisYouth Leadership St. Louis

Youth Leadership St. Louis provided 69 high school juniors from 15 partnering schools and community organizations with the knowledge, resources and inspiration to become the next leaders in our region. No other program in our community brings together such a large and diverse group of students.

Nonprofit Executive of the YearNonprofit Executive of the Year

FOCUS President & CEO Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch was recognized as the 2023 Non-Profit Executive of the Year by the St. Louis American Foundation at their Annual Salute to Business Luncheon.

Women's Leadership BreakfastWomen's Leadership Breakfast

More than 150 members and alumni turned out for our annual Women's History Month Celebration at Edward Jones, where our inspiring panel of women candidly shared their unique leadership journeys.

YLSL Honored by NAACPYLSL Honored by NAACP

Our Youth Leadership St. Louis program had the privilege of being recognized by the St. Louis City NAACP with the Frankie Muse Freeman / Norman R. Seay Commitment to St. Louis Award.

Transformational LeadershipTransformational Leadership Workshop

With a commitment to continue learning and growth opportunities for alumni, FOCUS delivered a half-day workshop on operationalizing transformational leadership.

Experience St. LouisExperience St. Louis

Led by our President and CEO, our fall session of Experience St. Louis provided a two-day insider's orientation to CEOs and senior executives who are new to the region.

What's Right with the RegionWhat's Right with the Region

Our community came together in May to celebrate the What's Right with the Region Awards, recognizing 20 outstanding honorees, alongside The Steward Family and Emerging Leaders alumni Vin Ko.

Taste of MentoringTaste of Mentoring

Our 4th Annual Taste of Mentoring matched up early-career professionals and experienced FOCUS alumni for a morning of speed-networking and advice-sharing.


    Alumni Impact

    Our impact does not end when leaders graduate from our FOCUS programs; it continues as they take what they have learned out into our region. We were excited to see our alumni step into many new leadership roles and opportunities this year; here are just a few of these.

    Alisha SonnierAlisha Sonnier
    (EL 2022) was elected as the Ward 7 Alderwoman for the City of St. Louis.

    Marcus HowardMarcus Howard
    (EL 2020) opened GreaterHealth Pharmacy & Wellness, the first Black-owned pharmacy in Missouri.

    Kelly PollockKelly Pollock
    (LSL 2013 / WIL 2001) was hired as the inaugural CEO for Berges Family Foundation.

    Adam Cisroe PearsonAdam Cisroe Pearson
    (EL 2016) was appointed Director of the Department of Human Services for the City of St. Louis.

    Michael MoehnMichael Moehn
    (LSL 2004) was elected Chair of the Board of Directors for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis.

    Jasmine Hall Ratliff
    (WIL 2022) was named the inaugural Executive Director for Build Missouri Health.

    Penny PenningtonPenny Pennington
    (LSL 2008 / ESL 2009) was named among Fortune's 2023 100 Most Powerful Women in Business.

    Julius Anthony

    Julius B. Anthony
    (LSL 2002) was named a Camelback Ventures Fellow.

    Gabriel GoreGabriel Gore
    (LSL 2007) was sworn in as Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis.

    Erica WilliamsErica Williams
    (YLSL 2002) was recognized by the Community Builders Network for Growing in Equity and Antiracism.

    Jennifer YackleyJennifer Yackley
    (LSL 2018) was named City Manager for the City of Olivette.

    Valerie PattonValerie Patton
    (LSL 1993 / WIL 1990) was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from NCCJ St. Louis.

    Jada ReeseJada Reese
    (LSL 2007) was named as Chief People Officer for Schnucks Markets.

    Amanda LaumeyerAmanda Laumeyer
    (WIL 2017) was named as CEO of St. Patrick Center, a ministry of Catholic Charities.

      Emerging Leaders Testimonial

      Thank You to Our Supporters

      The listing below reflects all membership and donation gifts recorded between July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023. If you have a question or need to make a change to how you are listed,  please contact Kayla Dix at

      2022-23 Financials

      Revenue Pie Chart
      Expenses Pie Chart


      Join Us On Our Journey Forward

      With our new strategic plan guiding the way, we are ready to embark on the next phase of FOCUS, and we hope you will join us. There are many ways to show your support and get engaged.

      • 2022-23 FOCUS Alumni
      • 2022-23 FOCUS Alumni
      • 2022-23 FOCUS Alumni
      • 2022-23 FOCUS Alumni
      • 2022-23 FOCUS Alumni